Strengthening research-based institutions - Priority 5

Te whakakaha i ngā pūtahi rangahau

Last updated 26 October 2016
Last updated 26 October 2016

This page sets out how we are supporting Priority 5 of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) – strengthening research-based institutions. This priority is focused on seeking a stronger contribution from New Zealand’s research, science and innovation systems to our wider economic objective.

The benefits of tertiary education research

Tertiary education-based research provides significant economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits. This includes helping us to:

  • better understand our unique culture and our place in the world
  • effectively manage our natural environment
  • improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Building tertiary education’s contribution to economic growth requires us to have strong, internationally respected and competitive research-based institutions.

Research-led teaching trains the next generation of researchers and equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to make a greater contribution to their communities and workplaces.

Research enhances public knowledge and debate, the creation of effective public policy and innovation and productivity.

Tertiary education research should maintain and increase its contribution in these areas. To do this, tertiary education organisations (TEOs) must be able to conduct high-quality research that advances knowledge, contributes to improved teaching practice and responds to New Zealand’s particular challenges and opportunities.

TEOs and industry working together

The Government expects TEOs to work more closely with industry to improve the relevance of research and achieve greater transfer of knowledge, ideas and expertise to industry and wider society.

TEOs also need to collaborate more with each other and with other research organisations to connect their capability and take advantage of international partnerships and opportunities.

How we support Priority 5

Our role is to invest in and influence research improvements in the quality and relevance of research and research-led teaching.

We have a number of funds and initiatives that support this priority: the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) , Entrepreneurial Universities and Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) .

Through these funds and initiatives we are focused on delivering:

  • more leading-edge research that builds New Zealand’s international research reputation
  • more high-quality research that contributes to innovation and economic transformation
  • a growing, world-class, innovative research workforce.

Through our Investment Plan process, the research-based TEOs are required to include information in their Investment Plans on how they will manage their overall resources to support their research strategies and implementation plans and support innovation (especially commercial innovation) through research, knowledge exchange and human capital development.


Performance-Based Research Fund

The PBRF ensures excellent research in the tertiary education sector is encouraged and rewarded. This involves assessing TEOs’ research performance and then funding them on the basis of their performance.

PBRF is accessed by universities , institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) , wānanga and private training establishments (PTEs) through Investment Plans.

The primary objectives of the fund are to:

  1. increase the quality of basic and applied research at New Zealand's degree-granting TEOs
  2. support world-leading teaching and learning at degree and postgraduate levels 
  3. assist New Zealand's TEOs to maintain and lift their competitive rankings relative to their international peers, and 
  4. provide robust public information to stakeholders about research performance within and across TEOs.

Read more about the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF).

Entrepreneurial Universities

In Budget 2016, the Government allocated $35 million over four years for the Entrepreneurial Universities initiative. Entrepreneurial Universities will establish a competitive fund for co-investment with universities to attract world-leading entrepreneurial academics to New Zealand, leveraging their skills and experience to drive:

  • cutting-edge research to grow New Zealand’s competitive advantage
  • university-led innovation and entrepreneurship in existing and emerging industries
  • commercially-relevant research that fosters industry collaboration and strengthens economic growth, and
  • stronger connections with overseas universities, research institutes and businesses.

We are engaging with stakeholders on the design and parameters of the procurement process and expect to issue a Request for Funding Applications for Entrepreneurial Universities later this year.

Read more about Entrepreneurial Universities.

Centres of Research Excellence fund

The CoREs Fund was established in 2001 to encourage the development of excellent tertiary education-based research that is collaborative, strategically focused and creates significant knowledge transfer activities.

CoREs are inter-institutional research networks, with researchers working together on commonly agreed work programmes. They contribute to New Zealand’s development and link to user groups. They also build research capacity and capabilities through post-graduate programmes and the training of new researchers.

CoREs funding is determined through a fully contestable process, and allocated and monitored by us.

There are currently 10 CoREs which are funded through to 2020. These are:

  • Brain Research New Zealand
  • the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies
  • the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology
  • the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery
  • the MedTech CoRE
  • Te Pūnaha Matatini – the Centre for Complex Systems and Networks
  • Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga
  • the Riddet Institute
  • QuakeCoRE NZ Centre for Earthquake Resilience
  • the Bio-Protection Research Centre. 

CoREs are delivering excellent quality world-class research, which brings significant socioeconomic and educational benefits to New Zealand.  

Learn more about CoREs.